Germany took risks that paid off in group stage finale vs. Switzerland

Germany took risks that paid off in group stage finale vs. Switzerland

Updated Jun. 23, 2024 7:54 p.m. ET

His name is Niclas Füllkrug

The man who shined as the star of the day for Germany on Sunday lit up the pitch at Frankfurt Arena, notching a stunning goal in the 92nd minute to push Germany atop the Group A standings. He also bought the German squad a much easier path to the Euro 2024 final in the process, as a loss would've handed the top spot in the group to Switzerland.

Now, though, the Swiss are likely to face Italy in the round of 16, England in the quarterfinal, and France in the semifinal. Meanwhile, Germany probably gets Denmark, then Spain followed by Portugal. And that's thanks to Füllkrug's impressive header.

The Borussia Dortmund forward ended the match as its hero, but didn't enter the pitch until minute 76. In fact, German manager Julian Nagelsmann entered the Switzerland matchup with his traditional starting 11 despite the fact that Germany was guaranteed to advance regardless of the outcome. 


Germany's Niclas Füllkrug scores in stoppage time

Jimmy Conrad, Melissa Ortiz and Wes Morgan discussed Nagelsmann's interesting decision to neglect an alternate lineup, pondering whether it'd affect Germany's stamina going forward.

"The fact that he rolled out the same exact starting 11 when he didn't need to, like they were going to get into the next round. … Why would you not make any changes?" Conrad questioned.

"He talked about having consistency in the lineup and I respect that perspective, however, this is a marathon not a sprint, right? And you want to have as many healthy bodies going into the knockout round as possible, plus he had four players that were on yellow card. If four of them got another yellow card, they'd have to sit out the round of 16. This felt very surprising."

Those four players: Antonio Rüdiger, Maximilian Mittelstädt, Robert Andrich and Jonathan Tah, one of whom will miss Germany's next fixture after being assessed a yellow card on Sunday.

"Definitely a surprise there were no changes, considering the players on yellow card," Morgan said. "They were already through to the next round, giving opportunity to the rest of the players could've been an option.

"I think looking at the starting lineup, [he] definitely wants to go into this game winning it, finishing top of the group, and it almost backfired right to the end. The Swiss took them to the wire. … The players all gave it their all, were happy with the result … the route to the final is easier. This worked out well, it almost backfired."

Despite the gamble paying off for Nagelsmann due to Füllkrug's goal, Melissa Ortiz still felt he made the wrong decision.

"In the last two minutes he got validated," she contested. "If it wasn't for that last two minutes … and my question is why not have either started Füllkrug or Thomas Müller or brought in Leroy Sané earlier or even started him? I don't know, have some type of changes for this game."

Germany's next match comes next Saturday in the round of 16, so they'll have plenty of time to rest and recuperate before then. But will their legs remain fresh if they continue to advance?

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